Germany and the Austria’s Women’s team took part in the first series following international cricket’s standstill due to the effects of the global pandemic. Fans across the globe were able to tune into the action, and got the opportunity to gain an insight into women’s cricket within the country. But the on-field performances are only the result of the players and Deutscher Cricket Bund’s (DCB) hard work that often goes under-appreciated.
Emerging Cricket recently had the opportunity to talk to the Vice President of the DCB, Monika Loveday, about 2020 and the work that the board plans to undertake during 2021.
The On-field performances
‘In hindsight, we were very lucky to have managed the tours to Oman and Austria, so that alone makes it a fantastic year,’ Loveday reflects on the events of last year.
Loveday’s sentiment appears more than justified after not only being able to go on two tours, but finishing the year with an 8-0 record in T20I matches along with several impressive individual performances. Christina Gough (348) and Janet Ronalds (342) finished as the fifth-highest and sixth-highest run-scorers in Women’s T20I matches during 2020, while Emma Bargna finished the year as the eight-top wicket-taker.
The tour to Oman took place during February 2020 and represented the German Women’s team’s first tour outside Europe.
‘Even before Covid-19 was perceived as such a global threat, the planning of the tour was a bit nerve-wracking because of a suddenly unstable situation in the Middle East due to military intervention and the death of the Omani Sultan. These factors combined to almost cancel the trip.
‘Once we got there, however, it was fantastic. Oman were great hosts, the facilities at Al Amarat Cricket Academy are outstanding and the country overall is just amazing. It was certainly a unique experience on and off the field for the Golden Eagles. In terms of cricket, we (the team and the DCB) weren’t sure what to expect exactly. Oman had been playing a tournament in January and won some of those matches, and they were ranked quite a few places above us when we arrived. We lost the warm-up match but then managed to win all four T20Is. It was a great reward for the team who had worked so hard’.
However, on returning from the tour, the global situation quickly changed.
‘Then came the lockdown and with it online fitness sessions, as well as a zoom call with Heather Knight and Anya Shrubsole. They both were fantastic to talk to and gave some interesting insights into their experiences as cricketers’, Loveday continued.
For Loveday, it was the series in Austria that was ‘the icing on the cake.’ Throughout the series, the team current group of players broke numerous records including Bargna securing the first-ever five-wicket haul for Germany and Anuradha Doddaballapur becoming the first women to take a double hat-trick in an international match. These records were also matched by other individual feats including Anne Bierwisch’s hat-trick along with both with Gough and Ronalds both scoring centuries.
‘The matches being live-streamed helped our publicity immensely, especially as there also was hardly any other cricket happening in the world. To be honest, it got a bit stressful, trying to answer all the messages and interview requests, and it was an aspect our players weren’t used to, but they did step up and did a great job’.
Looking to 2021
Loveday describes Germany’s play as full of energy, and hopes the vibe continues into 2021 as they prepare for Europe Qualifiers for the Women’s T20 World Cup in August.
‘Whenever the Golden Eagles take the field, they show absolute commitment, dedication and enthusiasm. They will never give up and fight to the last ball but at the same time show respect to the opposition and officials. They love the game as much as players earning a living of cricket’.
When previewing the tournament from a German perspective, the vice-president was enthusiastic about the German team’s ability to perform during the summer.
‘It’s fantastic to have 6 teams participating and this alone makes it very exciting. We know France fairly well although we haven’t come up against them in the last three years. We played against the Netherlands and Scotland in the last qualifier, but never against Ireland which will be a challenge and great opportunity. Turkey is the mystery team as we don’t know anything about them so this will be interesting.
‘In the last qualifier, we choked a bit and weren’t able to show the potential this team has really got, so this time around there is a determination to demonstrate how far the Golden Eagles have come. We want to compete with the likes of Scotland/Netherlands/Ireland, even if they are a number of years ahead of us.’
However, there is no doubting the harsh reality of the world as the global pandemic continues to affect sporting events. When asked about how the DCB aims to maintain the momentum build up during the last 12 months, Loveday laments the difficult preparation.
‘It’s really difficult and hard to keep the momentum going, with the lockdown and subsequent training sessions cancelled. We are hoping to have more matches in preparation before the ICC Europe Qualifier in August but it is still very uncertain how much we can do. Hopefully, by May and June the infection numbers will have come down again and the vaccinations are starting to make a difference.
‘Unfortunately, Cricket is still a very small sport in Germany so the German public has not taken so much notice of our successful year 2020. There were some reports in local newspapers and a couple of local TV reports but it hasn’t made huge waves, not anything like it was in the cricket press worldwide. Exposure to the German public, and recognition in the German sports landscape, is certainly something the DCB wants to improve in the near future’.
Despite frustrations, including the postponement of an indoor cricket league, Loveday maintains that the DCB ‘has never been in a better position than now.’
‘Staff (are) ready and waiting to deliver cricket programs to schools as well as running Women-specific sessions to get new teams going. These developments are alongside our new performance centre which is ready and waiting when it is permitted’. Loveday says that the DCB’s aim is ‘for the growth and expansion of Women’s cricket, with more matches being played on a regular basis, along with retaining players and attracting new players’.
When asked about her own personal hopes for the year ahead, Loveday concluded the interview by wanting growth in participation, as more Germans fall in love with the game.
‘I’d like to see more clubs viewing Women’s and youth cricket as the way forward to grow the sport, and as an enrichment to their club. It would be a great achievement if the Golden Eagles were to continue their winning streak and manage to climb the rankings a bit more.
‘In a year with a lot of qualifying tournaments, it would be fantastic if the German men were to win their stages of regional qualifiers and to go through to the global qualifier’.
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